About The Minnesota Ignition Interlock Program

Minnesotans arrested for driving while impaired (DWI) that have a cancelled or revoked driver’s license now have the opportunity to regain their driving privileges sooner by participating in the Minnesota Ignition Interlock Program, administered by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services.

The program enhances public safety by giving eligible DWI offenders the opportunity to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles to ensure they are driving safely and legally.

An ignition interlock is the size of a hand-held calculator that prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects a certain alcohol-concentration level after the driver blows into its tube. The device also calls for retests after the initial test.

This website provides information on how to sign up to participate in the Minnesota Ignition Interlock Program, as well as the benefits, costs and frequently asked questions about the program.

This information was copied from this website: http://www.minnesotaignitioninterlock.org/index.shtml


What is an ignition interlock?

An ignition interlock is a breath analyzer device that is wired into a vehicle’s starting system. It prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver has consumed too much alcohol.             An ignition interlock is about the size of a cellular phone and is attached to the vehicle by a cord that is hidden under the vehicle’s dashboard.

How much does an ignition interlock device cost?

An ignition interlock device costs between $60 and $125 per month, depending on the vendor. Ignition interlock vendors may charge up to $100 to             install and $50 to remove the ignition interlock from your vehicle.

How long must I participate in the Minnesota Ignition Interlock Program?

The length of time you need to use the ignition interlock device depends on the number of prior offenses on your record and the length of your license revocation or             cancellation period. When you receive information about the program, you should be advised of the minimum length of time that you must participate. This time period can             be extended if you violate any of the program rules or if you have other driving-related problems. Also, it is important to understand that if you decide to quit the program before             completing the time period and requirements, you will be given no credit for participation.

Can the interlock unit drain my battery?

Problems occur only if your vehicle has an existing electrical problem or if the vehicle’s battery has died.

Will the installation of the interlock device damage my vehicle?

No. The device is only connected to the wiring under the dash and under the hood. At the end of the program, this wiring is restored to its original condition.

Will filling my car with gasoline at the service station cause my interlock to fail?

Filling your car with gasoline will not create a false-positive test. Gasoline, even in high concentrations, will not register as a “fail” on an alcohol-specific ignition interlock.

What if I try to trick the device by having someone else blow into it?

This is very hard to do — and it is illegal and dangerous. The device will require you to blow into it not just when the vehicle is starting, but also occasionally when the vehicle is             in operation. These “rolling retests” are required to prevent the driver from having someone else blow for them.

What happens if someone else drives my vehicle and blows a fail?

As the participant, you are responsible for all tests recorded on the vehicle’s ignition interlock, whether you are the driver or not. All tests are your responsibility.

Will the interlock shut off my engine or stop my vehicle?

The interlock system will not shut off your engine if a breath test is failed. It is designed to prevent the car from starting without a passing breath test.             If you fail a test while driving, the device records a violation but will not stop your car.

Can I start my vehicle if I only had one beer, a glass of wine, or one cocktail?

Many factors affect how fast a person metabolizes alcohol, including the size and gender of the person. The average person metabolizes about one ounce of alcohol per hour.             The important thing to remember is that everyone metabolizes alcohol at different rates under different circumstances. Any alcohol violations will be recorded on your monthly calibration report.

Can I start my vehicle without taking a test?

No. The driver must blow into the device in order to start the car, and the device must record an alcohol-concentration level below the pre-set level before the vehicle will start.

Is there a safe way for me to do the rolling retest?

While it is not difficult to do a rolling retest while driving, many people do not feel comfortable doing so. If you are not comfortable taking the rolling retest while             driving, find a spot to pull over so you can take the test. The device automatically gives you time to find a safe place to pull over.

How will the things I eat, drink, smoke, or put on my body (such as cologne) affect the interlock test?

Some substances will affect the test and could give you a false positive.

Mouthwash: Some mouthwash brands and sprays have up to 30 percent alcohol; these will definitely create a positive test on your interlock.             We recommend that you switch to a non-alcoholic mouthwash while using the ignition interlock device. However, alcohol levels from mouthwash or sprays should start to drop within 15 minutes,             and washing your mouth out with water will help it drop faster. We recommend rinsing your mouth with water before testing.

Certain foods: Most foods will not cause the ignition interlock device to fail. However, you should be aware that certain candies and foods that may register a failed test             unless you take precautions (like rinsing your mouth with water) prior to testing. For example, sugar and active yeast in some bread products (e.g.; cinnamon rolls, doughnuts) can             combine to create a low-level alcohol reading. Simply rinse your mouth with water before the test to eliminate the remaining food. Alcohol-filled chocolates will register a fail;             however, the alcohol in the chocolate will begin to decline in three minutes, so if you wait a few minutes before blowing into the device, it should not register a fail. Gum and candy without alcohol             content will not create a false positive test.

Cigarette smoke and snuff: Always take a few deep breaths before attempting a test if you are a smoker. While cigarette smoke does not affect the interlock reading, you should never blow smoke into the unit.

Perfume, hairspray, after-shave or cologne: Most perfumes and colognes contain alcohol, but the interlock will not react to these substances on your skin, even if they’re used in heavy concentrations.

What if we only have one vehicle in our family and have multiple drivers?

Someone else can drive your car when the ignition interlock has been installed; however, anyone who drives the vehicle must be able to pass the breath test.             It is important to remember that you are responsible for all readings registered by the interlock, whether you are driving or not.              We recommend that anyone who will be driving the vehicle with the ignition interlock attend the training session during the installation appointment.

What type of information is recorded on the interlock device? What happens to this information?

The device records data on the breath test, as well as information about how often the vehicle is used and the number of miles driven.             When you take the vehicle to the vendor for monthly maintenance appointments, information is downloaded by a computer program for analysis.             This allows the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services Division (DVS) program staff and probation officers to monitor whether            the driver is using alcohol or is trying to bypass the device. The vendor prepares a report for DVS that includes information about:

  • Any instances where the driver had an alcohol concentration of 0.02 or higher
  • Any instances where the driver tried to start the vehicle without taking the test
  • Any instances where the driver failed the rolling retest or refused to take it
  • Any bypass of the device (if the driver tampers with or disconnects the device)
  • The number of times the vehicle was started and stopped
  • The distance traveled by the vehicle

What happens if I fail the breath test?

A failed breath test will be recorded on the interlock device and downloaded at the monthly maintenance appointment. This data is viewed each month by your             probation officer or a representative from DVS to verify compliance. After three non-compliant tests between service appointments, the device will notify the user of a pending             “lock out” that will take effect after 72 hours. The user will need to call the interlock vendor for a code within 48 hours of this notice, key this code into the handset and             follow up with a service appointment with the interlock installation service center. The user will be required to pay the $50 “lock out” fee.

What happens if I forget to bring the device in for a service appointment?

The user is allowed a grace period.  The time will start counting down hours from 120 (5 days).  Five days after the deadline, the device will go into a service lock out, which             requires the user to call the vendor to obtain a lock out code. Once entered, this code will allow the device to work normally for six hours so that the user can get to the installation              service center.  If the device is not serviced within six hours, the user will be in permanent lock out mode, which will require the user to tow the vehicle to the installation service center.


The Cost of Participating

Estimated costs of reinstating your license (required whether or not you participate in
this program):

  • Driver’s license reinstatement fee — $680.
  • Application fee – Varies (cost may depend on type of license)
  • Special registration plates — $50 (not always required).



Estimated costs of participating in Minnesota Ignition Interlock Program (varies by vendor):

The Potential Disadvantages of Participating

Whether the Ignition Interlock Program is worth the cost to you depends on your needs, preferences and level of offense.

There are program costs that may be more or less than you would spend on transportation if you were not enrolled.

You will have to meet program requirements, complete and submit paperwork, and agree to the terms of the program.

You will be required to take your vehicle in for monthly maintenance appointments so the testing data and engine start information can be downloaded into a report.